I am not sure why I love High Country plains so much, whether it’s the thick, low, soft grasses or the hunched snow gums that grow on their edge. Often, they’re where creeks that become mighty rivers are born and old mountain huts still stand. Once used by cattlemen in the summer and spring to fatten up their beasts, but now enjoyed by the roaming wild brumbies, the Long Plain in the Kosciuszko National Park is one of the largest.
The Long Plain Road turn off is an hour drive from Tumut via the Snowy Mountains Highway. You’ll be blown away by its beauty almost immediately as the Long Plain stretches out beyond the horizon. Have your camera ready as it is highly likely that you will spot your first wild brumbies within metres of venturing onto the well-maintained gravel road.
The first hut is Long Plain Hut, alongside Yorkie’s Creek, and the campground offers great shade cover from the trees, perfect on hot days. The hut was built in 1916 and was often used as a dance hall with a piano and drinks hauled from the nearby Rules Point Hotel, the perfect additions to party the night away. During winter months of the 1930s, the hut was used by rabbit trappers. There is a drop toilet and picnic tables for day visitors but that is all. In the early evening, you may be joined by eastern grey kangaroos or wild brumbies quietly grazing and drinking from the creek.
Adjacent to the Long Plain Hut track is Port Phillip Trail that leads past the Ghost Gully campground before ending abruptly at Tantangara Reservoir. When the water levels of the reservoir are high, the track that continues onto Currango Homestead is underwater. It is still a great place to check out and enjoy a picnic and swim in the icy water. You can also drive the Dam Trail that leads to where the Murrumbidgee River enters the reservoir.
Continue along the Long Plain Road you will soon cross the Murrumbidgee River in its infancy and looking more like an alpine creek. Cooinbil Hut is nearby, and you will pass a small Telstra mobile tower on the drive into the hut. It only provides a weak signal, but it is the only place you will get mobile coverage on the Long Plain. The hut was constructed around 1908 and was once part of a larger pastoral homestead complex. You can camp here, however it is a popular spot with horse trail riders so the flies are more populous.
Not far from the Cooinbil Hut, the Long Plain Road reaches the junction with the Blue Waterholes Trail. Turning right will lead you to Coolemine Homestead and the Blue Waterholes, turn left and you can reach Brindabella Road via Broken Cart Trail and Boundary Road, however, this is a 4WD only option and is seasonally closed.
Following the Blue Waterhole Trail, you will climb Coolemine mountain, albeit only a small climb, and here you will find another campground, perfect for when the ones near Blue Waterhole are full.
The Coolemine Homestead precinct is a great place to get out and explore, the old buildings certainly have a story to tell. The cheese hut was first erected in 1889 before being refurbished in 1987.
The Campbell House was thought to have been erected in 1892 as a five-room house. Newspapers were used to line the internal walls and horse hair was used as insulation to line the roof. Portions of this can still be seen today and some of the newspaper articles offer interesting reading.
Southwell house was originally constructed as a two-room slab hut around 1885 and used as a residence for outstation managers before being extended between 1891 and 1908. There are other outhouses and the old yards are still evident, allow enough time to really enjoy this historical setting.
The trail concludes at the Blue Waterholes campground where an information board explains the walks you can do. As the weather was excessively hot, I chose to wander down to Cave Creek and check out the colour of the waterhole before following the trail along the creek to enjoy some cold water splashed over my head. There were a few wild brumbies feeding in the shade, but one was one of the most poorly looking horses I have ever seen, the poor thing was mangy and losing hair and I felt very sorry for it.
There are a couple of campgrounds at this end with drop toilets and tables. Shade was at a minimum, so I was glad I was camping back at Long Plain Hut. The return drive was relieving, with the air-conditioner pumping the cold air out. A total fire ban meant campfires were out, so dinner was cooked on the gas stove and enjoyed under the shade of my awning. The march flies were friendly, it appears they like the colour blue? I didn’t let them worry me too much though as a small herd of brumbies appeared that included a couple of foals. For wild things they are used to humans being around, so weren’t bothered as I shot them with my camera.
Next morning, I packed up in the cool mountain air, my awning and swag covered in a light dew as the temperature hovered around 10 degrees; a massive change from the high 40s I had been experiencing. I captured some more shots of the brumbies as I departed the campground, ready for a new adventure. I will be back, I really do love this spectacular expanse that is the Long Plain.
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